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tv   Presidential Debate  MSNBC  October 22, 2012 10:00pm-11:30pm PDT

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and indigestion. i've worked hard to get to where i am... and i've got better places to go than always going to the bathroom. so take charge of your symptoms by talking to your doctor and go to for a free trial offer. and president obama and governor romney did engage in quite a few sharp exchanges, including libya and syria and iran and this exchange right off the top on al qaeda. >> we're going to have to recognize that we have to do as the president has done. i congratulate him on taking out osama bin laden and going after the leadership in al qaeda but we can't kill our way out of this mess. >> governor romney, i'm glad
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thaw recognize that al qaeda is a threat. you said the biggest threat was russia, not al qaeda. you know, the cold war's been over for 20 years. >> attacking me is not an agenda. attacking me is not talking about how we're going to deal with the challenges that exist in the middle east and take advantage of the opportunity there and stem the tide of this violence. >> on three separate occasions tonight, president obama described mr. romney's approach to foreign policy as all over the map. he used that phrase repeatedly. the third time he made that reference president obama went on an extended rift about him. >> on a whole range of issues, whether it's the middle east, whether it's afghanistan, whether it's iraq, whether it's now iran, you've been all over the map. i mean, i'm pleased that you now are endorsing our policy of applying diplomatic pressure and
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potentially having bilateral discussions with the iranians to end their nuclear program. but just a few years ago you said that's something you'd never do in the same way that you initially opposed a timetable in afghanistan. now you're for it, although it depends. in the same way that you say you would have ended the war in iraq, but recently gave a speech saying that we should have 20,000 more folks in there. the same way that you said it was mission creep to go after gadhafi. when it comes to going after osama bin laden, you said, well, any president would make that call but when you were candidate in 2008, as i was, and i said if i got bin laden in our sights, i would take that shot, you said, we shouldn't move heaven and earth to get one man. and you said we should ask pakistan for permission and if we had asked pakistan for
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permission, we would not have gotten him and it was moving heaven and earth to get him. >> president obama trying to disqualify mitt romney as commander in chief by explaining how the united states military term works and boats that go under the water that are called submarines. this must have been planned out in advance. you'll be seeing this over and over and over again over the next few days. >> our navy is smaller now than any time since 1917. the navy said they needed 313 ships. we're now down to 285. we're down to the low 200s. that's unacceptable. i want to make sure that we have the ships required by our navy. >> i think governor romney hasn't looked at how the military works. you mentioned the navy and that we have fewer ships than in 1916.
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we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed. we have things called aircraft and it's not a game of battleships where we're counting ships. it's where are our capabilities. >> the president sunk mitt romney's battleship. mitt romney is going to join us in just a second. there was a lot of legitimate news made tonight including mitt romney giving the endorsement of the stepped up use of armed
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drones over the past four years on the issue of iran, mr. romney suggested that the iranian president, ahmadinejad, should be cited for inciting genocide. >> we're going to be finished by 2014 and when i'm president we'll make sure we bring our troops out by the end of 2014. >> we're going to be finished by 2014. this is a new policy for mitt romney unveiled in the last debate before the presidential election. in february mr. romney said, the biggest mistakes president obama has made in afghanistan were, one, announcing the specific date we would withdraw. that was in february. in january he said, this president has done an extraordinary thing. he announced the date of our withdraw. that was wrong. in june he said, we shouldn't adhere to a timetable. this past summer he said, i don't think you set hard and fast deadline. that was the mitt romney before tonight's debate started. now you've got a new one. if this war matters to you, you've got a presidential candidate on your hands who has a brand-new position 15 days before the election.
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sometime you get real, live actual news out of these presidential debates. i think tonight was one of those nights. a cbs flash poll of uncommitted voters found that 53% said that president obama won tonight's debate. 23% said mitt romney won tonight's debate and 24% scored it as a tie. lawrence o'donnell is in the spin room with john kerry whose twitter feed has become way more interesting. lawrence? >> thank, rachel. you played mitt romney in the debate prep. when you were playing mitt romney, did you say we are going to be out of afghanistan by 2014? >> no. >> why didn't you say that? >> because mitt romney hasn't said it and he's never said it. i mean, my head is dizzy tonight trying to follow mitt romney. >> you were shocked when you heard him say it again. >> i was. because weeks ago mitt romney
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said, i'm going to listen to the generals. you made a mistake, mr. president, to set a date certain. you never should have announced it and now tonight he agrees. this is a man -- i have to tell you, tonight we saw a commander in chief and a candidate in total confusion who is -- if you're leaders in the world, you're scratching your head tonight saying, how could the american people possibly elect a guy who has changed his position every few months and doesn't know what he's going to do in foreign policy? i thought i was listening to the wikipedia candidate tonight. he would say, oh, there are taliban in pakistan. they have nuclear weapons. but what's the policy, governor? what are you going to do that is different? how are you going to -- nothing. absolutely nothing. which is why i tweeted that they sunk the battleships. take the ships, as a navy guy, when i was in the navy, we had 680 something ships. there's not anybody that
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questions today that our navy isn't the most powerful on the seas, that we don't have the most powerful military in the world. we spent more, as the president said tonight, than the next ten nations in the world. china, russia, great britain, france, all put together we spend more. we will have the best military in the world but it isn't by counting the numbers of ships. it's by what is their capability? what do we have the ability to answer as a threat? lawrence, tonight i have to tell you, i was stunned. mitt romney scares -- he really scared me tonight. i mean, this is a guy if people think he's ready to be president, this country's going to go back to the bush policies that took us through iraq. he's going to outsource to the people who organized that effort to go into iraq and we're in trouble. i listened to george pataki. half the things he said were just off the wall.
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i mean, you look at libya. the president did the most intelligent thing possible. and the republicans are complaining about it. they call it leading from behind. the president led from the front but managed to keep american troops from having to go in, managed to liberate a country together with nato and others who did a lot of the heavy lifting, be which is great and i would think americans would cheer that and our goals were advanced and after chris stevens was tragically killed, 30,000 libyans came out with signs saying, we love america, we love chris stevens. that's america at its best. on the mitt romney, you have this confusion, you have completely helter skelter policy. >> tomorrow at work people will be talking about it and i have to say there's nothing from the romney side that i remember but that line about we don't have as
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many horses in the military anymore, that sounds to me like what people are going to be saying at work tomorrow. >> well, i hope so because this is serious business. i'm not going to laugh about it. it is really serious business. we have, you know, still too many troops in afghanistan for many people's liking. we have to transition that war but we have to do it in a way that protects the sacrifice of the troops that have been there and what we need to do for our security as a platform against counterterrorism. we don't want people being able to come back into the country and plot against our country again. so we have enormous challenges. but i listen to mitt romney tonight trying to blame the president for uncertainty in an arab world that is going through the greatest transition since the empire fell. i mean, we and no islam mist told a tunisian fruit vendor to emulate himself.
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he did that out of a desire to break out of this yoke of crushing his aspirations because they took his weighing machine. at tahrir square, that wasn't the brotherhood. they didn't start that. that was young egyptians with their tweets and their ability to google and to communicate to each other with their cell phones dreaming of a future where they have jobs and can reach out to the rest of the world and their country was giving them what everybody aspired to and then, of course, the brotherhood came in because they were organized and won an election. we want elections. i thought we were for democracy, not against it, governor romney. the same thing is now going on in syria. he says he doesn't want to put troops in. lawrence, there are so many weapons going into syria, the
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saudis, they have weapons going in. what we need to do is make sure it doesn't implode and that we don't have a sunni conflict in the middle east which has deep implication for jordan, for turkey, israel, our great ally and friend and you hear none of that sensitivity from mitt romney. it's a complicated world out there and we need a president who understands those complications and has the experience of making decisions about them. >> final comment? >> this is the most inexperienced candidate for president and vice president together. >> a one term governor with no foreign policy experience. >> one term governor and congressman that's been dealing with the budget. neither of whom have ever made a real decision about sending troops into war or about going into war or have gone into war themselves. >> i have to ask you a question where i understand --
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>> you just heard -- i don't know if that was a loose cable or something else but we just lost the tail end of that interview there. it was a live interview between lawrence o'donnell and john kerry. there has been a lot of discussion about if hillary clinton steps down, whether john kerry would be positioned to be a secretary of state. we're going to go live to chris matthews. chris, over to you. >> thank you, rachel. let's go to stephanie cutter. stephanie, i was stunned by the president's preparedness tonight for that talk about the number of ships in the navy. and i can only assume that he knew that the former secretary of the navy was going to push that into the mouth of mitt romney tonight and he's going to make him regret he ever brought it up. >> well, you know, this was a key piece of mitt romney's foreign policy speech. this is one of the few pieces of
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policy in mitt romney's policy speech and i think the president just thought it was an ak acronym and weapon don't have to count the number of ships that we had back then. >> oh, gosh. well, we're going to have to go back to rachel. looks like we lost our contact with the deputy campaign manager, rachel. >> thank you, chris. we got lost in the distance between the spin room and satellite that makes this all possible. we're going to take a quick break and come back. there's one interesting thing we're going to have for you when we come back which is that cbs snap poll of uncommitted voters, which showed a 30-point margin for president obama. striking comparisons between that and the way the previous two debates were viewed by similar samples of voters. i'll have those numbers for you when we come back. this is the continuing coverage of the third and final presidential debate of 2012.
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>> governor romney has taken a different approach throughout this campaign. both at home and abroad, he has proposed long and reckless policies, he's praised george bush as a good economic stewart and dick cheney as someone who shows great wisdom and judgment. humans -- even when we cross our t's and dot our i's, we still run into problems. namely, other humans. which is why, at liberty mutual insurance, auto policies come with new car replacement and accident forgiveness if you qualify. see what else comes standard at liberty mutual insurance. responsibility. what's your policy?
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when it comes to going after osama bin laden, you said any president would make that call. but when you were a candidate in 2008 as i was, i said if i got bin laden in our sights, i would take that shot. you said, we shouldn't move heaven and earth to get one man and that we should ask pakistan for permission and if we had asked pakistan for permission, we would not have gotten him and it was worth moving heaven and earth to get him. >> public policy polling did a
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poll of swing state voters and they say in their swing state poll they have a margin of 53 to 42. a cnn poll of registered voters has president obama winning 48 to 40. so that's by an eight-point margin. that's a cnn poll of registered vote ares. this is the one that i find interesting in terms of comparison purposes. cbs did a poll of uncommitted voters of roughly 500 people and tonight they found a very large margin for the president, a 30-point margin. 53% of these uncommitted voters saying that president obama won tonight's debate, 23% saying mitt romney won. at the first debate, which everybody sort of scored instantly for mitt romney as a very big win, that margin for mitt romney winning that debate among uncommitted voters polled by cbs was a 24-point win for mitt romney. tonight, a 30-point win for president obama.
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now, be you can always read too much into these polls but a big win for mitt romney, that poll is part of the reason it was seen as such a big win. that poll tonight showing a bigger win for president obama. we're going to go back to chris matthews who is in boca raton with stephanie cutter. >> let's read a lot into it. stephanie, what do you make of the fact that we have three polls out tonight? we're going to hear from a smaller group. cbs among undecided, how do they matter in the way that people react to these polls? do they wait to see who the numbers go with or make their own judgment? what do you think? >> i think that these instant polls have an influence on how press cover these debates and the aftermath and the day after but i think the american people watching the debate tonight probably made their own judgments. i think they probably came down with the same conclusion that cbs did, that they saw one commander commander tonight and
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another who was unsteady and uncertain and not ready to be the commander in chief. >> i was in wonder, just as senator kerry was and he's been working on this more on working with the president and george mcgovern tonight, he was talking about a peaceful planet he wanted to live on, he talked about the principles of peace. he wanted to have wars as a last resort. he didn't seem like the hawkish of the hard right rail in the primary caucuses to win. >> no, he absolutely didn't. and this is part of a pattern with mitt romney. unfortunately, when you're talking about foreign policy, you can't have that uncertainty. you can't suddenly change your positions for your own political benefit. because the world is watching. you know, the president said it
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best tonight, when you're the commander in chief, you have to be strong. you have to be steady. you have to be certain and you can't create confusion at home or all over the world and i think the world was probably watching tonight and they were probably confused about mitt romney's position on foreign policy. let's remember he traveled all through europe insulting our allies. and created huge blunders, calling russia our greatest geopolitical foe, blunder after blunder, bluster after bluster. as a result, he created an uncertainty about himself, a lack of strength. that's not what we need as a commander in chief and i think that's what the polls reflect. >> stephanie, i have one last thought. i started the program earlier tonight with this. it seemed to me, looking towards tonight, i wasn't sure what happened at all but i thought it might happen. up until tonight, your boss paid
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the price of incumbency. coming back from that it's been painful. tonight he benefited from his incumbency, his knowledge and experience in leading this country safely through these four years. are the next two weeks going to be an opportunity for him to be president of the united states, be do you have a two-week plan to get from here using the presidency to the election? >> yes. and you know, chris, i think that the power of incumbency comes in a number of different way. people know this president. they know that he has their best interest at heart. he is fighting every single day to keep our country safe and they can count on him. and over the next two weeks that will be made even more clears a the president lays out his agenda for a second term, how he's going to continue moving
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this country forward and the choice in this election. there's a clear choice in this election about who is going to move this country forward. i think mitt romney's performance, as the president said, the 1950s and social policy, 1920s and economic policy. he wants to take this country back. >> well, we hope to hear a lot from you in the two weeks ahead. we're going to go back to rachel. thank you, stephanie cutter it. congratulations. i think you guys won tonight. let's go back to rachel in chris. >> appreciate it, chris. richard engle is with us from washington. i know you were able to watch tonight's debate. i want to ask you, do you think there was significant policy news made tonight? i was surprised to hear mitt romney change his tune on afghanistan but what did you think was the most important thing? >> there seemed to be several policy points. one, that the setting of the deadline from mitt romney that you just talked about. two, i thought it was the first time we heard such a strong line coming from president obama
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vis-a-vis pakistan. he said that if pakistan -- if the u.s. had asked for pakistani help to find bin laden they wouldn't have gotten it. that's a harder line than usually the united states is really cautious when it deals with pakistan. i thought that he was very -- president obama was very decisive when it came to iran and he looked to the camera and said, if i remain president, iran or under my presidency, iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon and said that as soon as the international community pointedly in his emphasis, not just israel but the international community determines that iran is going to reach this breakout cape pa built, there will be some action. search talking about until now the president of having an advantage of being president, of setting foreign policy, of having all of the intelligence and that's all true.
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but he also has some limitations in that what he says is policy, so he can't go far off to extremes. those are just some of the policy questions. there are other observations. i was watching this debate with a large group of university students here. and i can tell you when that line came about military spending and mitt romney said, well, our navy is not as strong as it was in 1916 because back then we had more ships and the president said, well, we don't have as many horses or bayonets either, there was a big round of applause. and one thing that resonated with me was a basic inconsistency with the -- that i thought coming from mitt romney. in the beginning, i thought governor romney's approach, his initial outline was strong, saying that the middle east is unstable right now, which it is, that there's a lot of chaos, which it is and it has not
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necessarily yielded results that the united states sees a benefit to and i think that's possible. how this situation in the middle east ends upset telling out, we don't exactly know. but all of those initial statements are true. but then when asked by bob schieffer, he would have thrown mubarak under the bus. so if you agree with that, you're kind of undermining your entire argument. if it's the arab spring has been a horrible thing and then you go on to say, yes, but i also would have agreed and pushed mubarak under the bus, i think that was a keep contradiction that underlined what was initially the strongest part of his argument. >> and those internal
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contradictions to me play to a larger question of whether or not there is just fundamental seriousness on the issue of foreign policy on the part of the republican ticket and i think those questions are going to linger over into tomorrow. but in terms of the case that president obama made, you highlighted, richard, you said that he took this very clear line on pakistan that if we had told pakistan that we were going to get bin laden, we would not have ended up getting him. in your estimation -- >> that was news. if i was going to put a headline, well, i hadn't heard that before. and that's a clear policy decision. >> do you think it's factually true, given what you know about pakistan and the region and about the treatment of al qaeda militants by the military services? is he right that if we had told them, we wouldn't have gotten him? >> look, you can't know what might have happened if something had been done that wasn't done
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and therefore didn't happen. it's impossible to know. but i know at the time that there were great concerns that if the united states told the pakistani authority and gave them forewarning that, one, they might not have been given the green line and, two, if they were given the green light, that the target, in this case, osama bin laden, would have been wis whisked away to another target. if you believe that and i know some officials who have intelligence on this operation, then it appears to be true. >> you can't prove it but it's a window into their strategic thinking on this. richard engel, thank you. >> thank you. a lot more to ask cover tonight as we examine the facts. there's some news that we can report about the somewhat contentious exchange about governor romney and president obama. fact checking its own candidate on that point.
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this is the live coverage of the final presidential debate. >> when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and 1920s. i know you haven't been in a position to actually execute foreign policy but every time you've offered an opinion, you've been wrong. [ male announcer ] when it comes to the financial obstacles military families face, we understand.
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anybody out there can check the record. governor romney, you keep on trying to air brush history. you were very clear that you would not provide government assistance to the u.s. auto companies even if they went through bankruptcy. you said that you could get it in the private marketplace. that wasn't true. they would have gone through --
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>> you're wrong. >> no, i am not wrong. i am not wrong. >> you can look it up. >> people will look it up. >> people have looked it up. people have looked it up and then asked the romney campaign to explain what it was they were talking about. howard fineman is one of those people who joins us from the spin room to explain how that worked out. howard? >> well, rachel, i had a pretty long conversation with rob portman about this. not only is he from ohio, a meticulous kind of guy, but he knows that ohio is what this is about when we're talking about the auto industry. and the obama people insist, and i think with good reason, that mitt romney was just flat outlying, not to put too fine a point on it, on the question of whether he, mitt romney, was willing to support direct federal help, the kind of help that the president put forth, for the auto industry. and in talking to rob portman, i went at him on this and he said, well, i'm going to send you the
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op ed again and i pressed him on it and he said, romney was willing to support backup guarantees. he was willing to have government support for for warranties and so forth. to me that was cutting it too fine by half and it sounded to me like rob portman was not only defensive about it but sort of trying to cut it very, very fine and this really matters, rachel, so we're down to the short strokes in ohio. the auto industry bailout and rescue is one of the president's most important if not best calling card on the economy t matters in ohio. mitt romney has to win ohio. president obama has to win ohio and that's why mitt romney was willing to say flatly what he said in the debate tonight, was to put it generously in an overstatement. >> howard fineman, thank you for that. we'll do our best to get a more formal follow- up from the romney campaign to find out if he's walking back that statement or whether or not mitt romney
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misspoke or does in fact stick by what he said in the debate. it was striking that that exchange between the two candidates ended with mr. romney insisting that we will -- everybody will look this up. we will go to the record on this. >> i thought the biggest key in that answer was the president talked about private equity money. it wasn't available. it wasn't there. there were no taker. no one from wall street, no one -- no adelsons, and no bain. no one was willing to stand up and say, you know what, we believe in the american workers and we're going to manufacture vehicles in this country. there was no money out there. the only chance it was going to happen is if the president were to take treasury money and move it forward and make it a enlo. you can call it a bailout but it's a loan that is being paid back and, guess what, the united states treasury is going to make money on what we're doing in this country and the president -- i was at his press conference. said, i don't want to be in the
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car business. you know, you've got to grasp what's going on here. i don't want to be in the car business but this is the only way that we're going to save jobs. the ripple effect is where president obama is going to be helped with white male workers in ohio, the steel, the plastics, the rubber, aluminum, all of the things -- the centers. all of the electronics, anything that goes into manufacturing automobiles. it's the ripple effect that the president was concerned about if he had not put that money forward. >> the big picture on the auto bailout, not just for the states where it affects manufacturing jobs but for the overall state of the economy and whether this idea of if mitt romney is a good steward of the economy means anything substantively. the alone worked. the auto industry is in great shape and what they are fighting over is whether or not mitt romney really was against it and he did right an op ed, let detroit go bankrupt, or whether he can share in some of president obama's credit for what president obama cleanly won with. it's a winning story for
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president obama no matter how the romney campaign tries to glom on to it. >> and the irony on this and the perspective of people who want to say that they add here to free market economics, the stimulus policy, which was much more diffuse and much more direct and much more hueing to sound economic management which gives people tax cuts and you don't go in and give people money, that was much more popular because it was much more diffuse. if you're going to go in there, go in there and take over the company because then you can point concretely to every one of those jobs. but if you do something like the stimulus, your opponents are going to kill you for it. >> steve schmidt, looking ahead, you were i think more bullish on how mitt romney did in this debate than most the people at the table were, which is a matter of politics than perception. as we're an hour now from when the debated ended, what do you think day two and day 3 stories about?
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>> i think you need to look at the debates in their totality. it's not one, two, and three. and in the totality of the debates, mitt romney went into looking into the abyss politically before the first debate, comes out of this debate in an even race and this whole election, as pointed out a bit ago, is going to come down to ohio. so this a hugely important issue. who is best able to articulate it? could be the difference in the election. i think that mitt romney tonight, he had to pass the commander in chief test. is this is a person who can handle the responsibilities of being commander in chief? does he have the requisite temperment? did he con pay that in the debate tonight and i think absolutely he did. so therefore i think the debate is a success. you can look at all of the flip-flops, all of the issues that we've talked about. i think it's going to be very difficult to make them stick politically over the next two
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weeks. i don't think that trying to make them stick is going to be an effective line of attack for the obama campaign but we'll see. >> i think that you're asking exactly the right questions and the reason i see mitt romney as having done a lot of damage to himself tonight is because i think he has failed to display the necessary seriousness on this issue and you don't get to decide whether you're going to be a foreign policy president or a domestic policy president. the world has ways of bending you to its will. his lack of preparation is the basic factual errors. the fact that he doesn't seem to have any known positions on it and including the war that we're in, i feel like, we knew you were foreign policy lightweight heading into this, you just proved that you are a foreign policy lightweight and you've been cramming for a week. i find it -- i think the commander in chief test was a test tonight and i don't feel partisan to say that. >> and it will come down to whether the president was incredibly articulate when he was doing it tonight, i think he made the case as effectively as
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he could. you've been all over the map on these issues. the great secretary of state, george schultz said, the most important foreign policy decision that ronald reagan ever made was to fire the air traffic controllers after he said he was going to do it. he said, that sent a message to the kremlin that there was a new guy in town and that guy did what he said he was going to do. that was the attack that president obama was trying to level against mitt romney tonight. that he was inconsistent, not a man of his word, he's unclear, he's on all sides of the issues. i think that mitt romney's demeanor in this debate nullified that attack. i could wrong on it but we'll see in the days ahead whether this stops mitt romney's momentum because mitt romney has momentum in this race since october. >> style points. >> i think that we must also deal with the character of someone that we want to see as commander in chief. if the perception is that facing your opponent you will just clench and embrace and agree, do
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you really want, if you believe iran is a threat, if you really believe that we're still dealing with some of the remnants of al qaeda, that guy at the table that will just clench and embrace his opponent, who stood for nothing in 90 minutes of debate, he stood for nothing. not one time. and whether i agree or disagree -- and i realize steve is talking as a strategist, whether i agree or disagree, i want him to stand for something. this guy was jello tonight. he did not only not know foreign policy, had he no backbone on any foreign policy position and took back everything he stood for. i would be afraid to send him into a negotiation for me. >> chuck todd has spoken to both campaigns tonight since the debate and joins us now from the spin room. chuck? >> well, rachel, what is interesting to hear from the spin is if what they say and the
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body language with which they convey it, i think what is interesting with the romney campaign, we had a strategy tonight and we executed it. we weren't going to follow the charges of the president. we weren't going to take the bait and have these specific debate. we weren't going to get into this back and forth. he had a goal tonight to meet the commander in chief test and okay. they are not claiming victory tonight. they are simply claiming they passed a bar and, look, i think to your point, it was interesting at times. i felt like he was giving a book report, that there were a lot of world book facts that would show up in some of his answers. and that was clearly their strategy. they were acting as if they were on a trajectory -- they think they are on a trajectory to win so don't do anything to interrupt that trajectory. i can tell you in talking to some of the foreign policy heavyweights, they were disappointed in romney, and whether it's the disagreements
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why didn't he go after the president on this or that, they just don't think that he articulated anything. he went in there with this decision to send a message and we could say that he was targeting suburban woman and that was what he was doing, agreeing with the president on a whole number of levels. as for the obama campaign, they feel that they were aggressive. i think you can look at their body language and they decided that they could be aggressive tonight. they didn't want to have a wasted opportunity given that there seems to be a concern about the trajectory of this race over the last couple of weeks and i think that they definitely had this plan and they feel like they executed that and it was amazing. i think that they were amazed and i've talked to some and tough on zingers. and whether they were too snarky or not, but romney never responded to them and that seemed a little meek. i was surprised by that.
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>> chuck, just briefly, has there been any sort of factual updating or crossing t's and dotting i's on some of the stuff like saying that syria is iran's path to the sea when syria doesn't have a border with iran? >> i saw that one. and we're talking about the different ways to -- yes. but i think substantively, there are two things that jumped out at me factually that deserve a longer conversation. it was the first time we heard from mitt romney that he would have done the same thing that the president did with mubarak. look, it's one of the most consequential decisions that barack obama made as president, which was to push mubarak out. it was a big deal when it happened. it has consequences for any american president, saudi arabia, this is going to have consequences. romney has at times wanted to criticize that decision and then tonight decided to back off of
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it completely. i think that was not a reversal but something new to me and then the afghanistan position, that was almost felt like a change in position when it came to afghanistan about getting folks out in 2014. so on the factual front i think that that will -- the afghanistan answer will get a focus. but by the way, let's not let the auto bailout -- i think that was a tell. we want to talk about battleground states, about ohio, so right at the end the question is about china and the president goes through the litany of issues and how he's gotten tough on china. brings out the auto bailout and romney chooses only to respond to the auto bailout. why? that to me was a tell. they know they are behind in ohio, they've got to fix this and it's all about -- i tell folks it's all about toledo. romney is losing in toledo because the auto worker there and president outperforming with white men. romney has made up in southeast ohio but not in toledo and i
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thought it was an interesting tell, romney was offensive and took the bail on auto bailout. i don't know if he helped himself because his answer was a little all over the place. he started crediting president bush with the bailout and then said he agreed with it but clearly they have to fix the auto bailout answer. >> chuck todd, thank you. i think that's going to get a lot of attention in the next 24 hours. lots and lots to come. stay with us. msnbc's live coverage of the final presidential debate. we'll be right back. i'm a conservative investor.
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just a few weeks ago you indicated we should still have troops in iraq. >> i indicated that you failed to put in place a status of forces agreement at the end of the conflict. >> you gave a speech a few weeks ago which you said we should still have troops in iraq. >> not just a disagreement on policy but a factual disagreement on whether that happened. mr. obama said mr. romney wanted troops on the ground a few weeks ago. what does the record tell us? >> they were both still wrong. romney made this criticism of obama. i think we have the tape of it here. >> america's abilities to influence events for the better in iraq have been undermined by the abrupt withdrawal.
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>> it's difficult to listen to that. romney has criticized obama for not having up to 20 or 25,000 troops left in iraq. with that said it's case of president obama did want to leave around 3500 troops in iraq. he was a bit evasive on that tonight. that agreement was not agreed to by the iraqis and it died in the water. it's an interesting moment where both men who worked for or argued we should have some level of troop presence, romney more so than obama were denying having held that position this evening. >> which is worse than disagreeing on it. on the subject of american influence in the world, mr. romney made a very checkable assertion here. >> unfortunately, nowhere in the world is america's influence greater today than it was four years ago.
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>> is that a checkable thing? is that something on which we have data and we can say that's true or not true? >> we have graph on it. this comes from a pew poll that was done in six countries around the world. it looked at range of questions. what do you think of american technology? ways of doing business if you look at the change from '07 to 2012, of every single measure the change was positive. on the ones most direct analogies are ways of doing business and countries feel about our ideas spreading there, you see most of them higher, even double digits. it's hard to say what do you mean when we measure but when you talk about the way people think about us in the world, there's no doubt based on the best polling evidence, america is doing better than it was five years ago on range of metrics
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and range of questions. >> even things that sound like platitudes are more interesting when you chase down the the data behind them. ed, you can see the obama campaign is bullish too. how did they try to make political capital. >> obviously the president was strong tonight. the president also sent a message tonight. he told us about iran that everything's on the table and the clock is ticking. now there's a lot of latitude there. he's given himself a lot of room. i could take that as an interpretation that the president told us that he might strike the iranians if things get out of hand. he told us tonight he would not allow them to have a nuclear weapon. he gave about the best ally talk he could give to the israelis tonight. >> chris. >> i think he did what he wanted
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to do politically. he used the power and authority of incumbency and the fact that a lot of his policy decisions have been broadly popular to cow his opponent who had nothing. i was just amazed at how inretreat mitt romney seemed all night. it's a huge missed opportunity. there's a lot you can go after. >> he just hugged him instead. >> i think he hugged and clinched. he really has no substance. >> big picture, encompassing both of them. is romney better off tonight or worse off? >> i think he's the same maybe better off because he didn't make a mistake and getting over
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that commander in chief bar. i think the romney campaign applied that as their only metric and they met that. >> i think i could not disagree more. you're making a coaching case. i think the american people after 11 years of war in afghanistan and counting have high expectations of people not spinning bullpucky. i wanted a strong debate on that subject. i want to thank you. we'll be back on november 6th, election night. right now chris matthews continues our debate coverage. don't go anywhere. nergy future that puts us in control. our abundant natural gas is already saving us money, producing cleaner electricity, putting us to work here in america and supporting wind and solar.
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my first job as commander in chief is to keep the american people safe. that's what we've done over the last four years. >> the debates are over. it ended with an odd spectacle here. we saw mitt romney seeking a peaceful planet.
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romney did he has best to echo president obama's positions and moved sharply to the center. romney endorsed the president's foreign policy record saying he agreed with him in setting a hard deadline on leaving afghanistan, on iran, on egypt. the president had a different strategy. he accused romney of trying to air bush his own history. >> i'm glad he agreed with the steps we're taking. there's been times where it sounded like you thought that you'd do the same things we did but you'd say them louder and that would make a difference. >> he hit romney for his lack of consistency on issues and his change of rhetoric on issues like iraq. let's watch. >> i indicated that you failed to put in place a status forces agreement at the end of the conflict. >> here is one thing. >> let him answer. >> here is one thing i've learned. you've got to be clear to our allies and our enemies about
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where you stand. you just gave a speech a few weeks ago in which you said we should still have troops in iraq. >> tonight, let's assess where things stand. we have news right off the back. according to an instant poll of cbs news it was a clear winner tonight. it was president obama. 53% said he won. only 23% said romney won. a cnn poll of debate watchers gave the president an eight point margin, 48 to 40. we have the huffington post joining us. i want to start with howard, first of all. howard, it looked like romney was willing to buckle on every point so he could come off more of a centerist person. he put his positions, policies and a blind trust. >> then he locked it and threw away the key. >> how does he get away with that in politics?
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>> by utter self-confidence and willingness to be called every name in the book. >> except right winger. >> except right winger and warmonger. talking to two of his aids right after the debate they had two or three goals. one was to avoid a terrible foreign policy gaffe that would be the headline in the newspaper and the headlines tomorrow. i think on that very low level on foreign policy mitt romney probably succeeded. they also wanted to portray him as a moderate peacemaker, man of peace who wouldn't put the finger on the button and in order to address undecided female voters in key states. >> let's go to ohio. you caught some news here tonight. the president went after romney from running from his past statements. he was a strong attack going after what romney said in the past about bin laden.
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>> when it comes to going after bin laden you said any president would make that call, but when you were a candidate in 2008, as i was, i said if i got bin laden in our sights, i would take that shot. you said we shouldn't move heaven and earth to get one man and we should ask pakistan for permission. if we asked pakistan for permission we wouldn't have gotten him. >> we've been watching ohio as the key state. let's take a look. you brought up something after the debate. let's watch what happened in the debate when the president cornered his challenger on the issue of opposing the auto rescue. >> i'm a son of detroit. i was born in detroit. my dad was head of car company. i like american cars. i would do nothing to hurt the u.s. auto industry. my plan to get the industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing
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checks. it was president bush that wrote the first checks. i said they need to go through managed bankruptcy and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees but they need to go through bankruptcy to get rid of excess cost and the debt burden they built up. >> governor romney that's not what you said. >> you can take a look at the op-ed. >> you did not say you would provide help. >> i said we would provide guarantees and that's what was able to allow these companies to go through bankruptcy and come out of bankruptcy. under no circumstances would i do anything other than to help this industry get on its feet. the idea that has been suggested that i would liquidate the industry, of course not. that's the height of silliness. >> let's check the record. the people of detroit don't forget. >> how do you provide guarantees if there's no loans to be made or gotten. >> the obama campaign jumped on this right afterwards.
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in the midst of the debate saying mitt romney is lying about this. i went to rob portman who played barack obama, helped prepare from ohio and knows the details. i questioned him. near as i could figure out his explanation he was saying read the op-ed piece. the famous piece that mitt romney wrote. there's a mention of federal help to back of warranties for cars and do other things after bankruptcy. the whole point that the obama people were making and the president made is that the private sector was not going to -- they were never going to give the money. they would never releash cash. without government guarantees up front none of it was going to happen. that's the point. that's what mitt romney who desperately trying to get votes in ohio. >> the banks wanted to be paid. >> it's all about ohio. >> the newspapers aren't going to pick up on this. who is he talking to with this
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ridiculous concession is this. >> i don't think he was necessarily talking to the auto workers in ohio who have decided. once again he's going for undecided voters so he doesn't look like a mean guy. >> this is what he did on birth control the other day. he said i'm not going to deny people birth control. it's not the legality. it's for it being paid for by employers. he changes the definition to skip by it for people that aren't paying attention. >> given the momentum that the president has lost and the momentum that romney has gained he's effectively playing to that middle. he's playing that middle card. >> the lower information voter. >> it's not about the lower information voter. it's part of the conversation that we have is no different than when obama attacked hillary's left during their
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primary and tacted back to the center and started quoting reagan and lincoln. >> is he pulling fast one to say you supported the auto industry when you didn't? >> these guys find themselves in different cross hairs at different times. i think you have mitt romney making that play to seal the case going into ohio. >> joy, thanks for joining us. this is what i've been hearing all night. i understand what you have to do when you're on the wrong side of the argument but the new argument anything he says is fine. anything he covers up is fine because this is an election two weeks from now. they say it's two weeks from now. it's the two-minute drill. you can say anything you want to say. that seems to be the argument tonight. >> i thought what steve was saying was extraordinary admission of how the political consultant world looks at election s that the content doesn't matter is long as he used this vacuum cleaner's approach.
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if you don't need a vacuum for your carpet, how about for your floors. if you don't need it for your floors, this blows up balloons. it's a sales pitch. it betrays a stunning lack of core principles. he's thrown away all the constituencies that have brought him this way. he tried to slink out of the grass. what does he stand for? i thought he sounded like he's voting for barack obama when it came to foreign policy. >> i think she's right. mitt romney is now saying nobody knows what i believe at all. it's all so confusing. don't worry. >> chris, can i just say -- >> i'll blow which ever way the wind is blowing.
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>> held onto him tight and kept him in his grip. he got him to back this 800 ship navy. take a look at this. you can have the first grab at this. this is when the president used some real humor. it has to do with the back and forth on the military budget and the navy. obama had one of his strongest lines of the night. it was prepared but god help him. >> our navy is smaller now than 1917. they said they needed 317 ships. we're now under 285. we're headed down to the low 200s. that's unacceptable to me. i want to make sure we have the ships required. >> i think governor romney hasn't spent enough time at looking how our military works. you mentioned the navy and we have fewer ships. we also have fewer horses and bayon nets because the nature of our military has changed. we have aircraft carriers where planes land on them.
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we have ships that go under water, nuclear submarines. the question is not a game of battleship where we're counting ships. it's what are our capabilities. >> joy. joy to the world. >> that was my favorite line of the night and the president said romney wants the foreign -- >> why was it your favorite? >> it was funny and i thought it just crushed romney. it made it look like he crammed for this last night. that navy thing was about virginia. it was saying virginia i'm going to get you some more navy ships. this pinpoint marketing strategy. >> it's perfect. >> he said you want the foreign policy of the '80s, the social policy of the '50s and the economic policy of the '20s. barack obama walked voters who haven't been paying attention through the various flip-flops. he exposed romney has being shallow in his understanding and knowledge of the key issue here
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which is we're not spending enough on the military. >> do you think it's possible that a politician could go into tonight with the idea of playing it like a xylophone. let me do something for virginia. let me hit that ohio number. >> why not? there are constituent parts to this. i get your cynicism but the fact of the matter is what romney did tonight was very effective in some respects and that he did. it shows the difficulty of sitting on the stage with the president of the united states on an issue like foreign policy. i thought he was effective in the discuss on china where he laid out his vision and view in terms of how he would handle iran and this nuclear capacity.
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gentlemen, everybody's had chance to talk. can i get a moment to make a point. >> sure. >> give me the second to say this. >> keep it short. >> i get the point that everybody wants to rah, rah obama did great job, but at the end of the day these two men went toe to toe. while romney didn't score the big points on the first night, scored the points he needed to score. he was at the table and in the game on foreign policy and something that you and many others wanted to discount him. say what you want. the reality is he stood up with the president and got some shots in. the president was on the defensive on a few issues. >> can i give one fine detail. >> i think the fact they were sitting at a table together made it romney to engage in that flagrant disrespect he showed the second debate. hold on.
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you'll get your turn. >> romney actually had the opposite strategy which was to agree with the president on virtually everything. he did that as a way to minimize -- >> it's called clinching. >> it's like in boxing. he's draped himself all over the president. did not show any kind of definition of his own vision. >> not only that -- >> give joy a chance. double points. howard talks about the boxer. it doesn't look that be good. >> if we're going to talk about finer points. let me put one final point. the sweating was distracting. he came in with a strategy of getting into barack obama's
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pocket and tucking himself in there the whole night. he didn't throw a punch. at one point he looked to be almost pleading to get more time to respond to a point the president made. i didn't see a single shot he got in that wasn't strongly and sternly rebutted. i don't think you meet the commander in chief test just by sitting in close proximity. >> we're not watching the same debate. >> let's give a shout out to bob sheffer got romney to be quiet. to stop it. >> thank you. howard you're great. michael you're great. >> i'm okay. >> good night for joy. joy to the world. >> i know my role here. >> you're supposed to lose by 15 points. coming up, more from boca raton.
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every time you've offered an opinion you've been wrong.
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i absolutely believe that america has a responsibility and the privilege of helping defend freedom and promote the principles that make the world more peaceful. >> welcome back to your reward for staying up late. our live midnight version of "hardball" live from boca raton, florida.
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the man we saw on stage tonight was a hawk at all. he spoke of peace a lot and troop withdrawal and war being a last resort. both are msnbc analysts. quick thoughts from both you have. he was channelling the late george mcgovern. >> i thought he was going to say let's all sing. >> why did he do it? >> to sound nonthreatening and not make mistakes and appeal to women voters. >> aren't they upset? >> they've given him pass. >> there is no joy in neo conville tonight. go back to john mccain's speech at the convention. he ticked off about six possible
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wars in the next five days. on day one when mitt romney comes there was none of that talk even on things like syria and afghanistan. issues were the neocons have laid out policies and have drawn mitt romney in that direction. he just threw them under the bus. >> here is a guy that wants to get tough with china. he sees russia as a big world enemy who says we should have not been leading from behind in libya. we should get out front in some form or other in syria and take on iran be minute they have the capability, they already do. hawkish on every front and tonight he said war should be the last resort. he said he wants to live on a peaceful planet. the language was soft and wonderful. >> it was all about reducing or eliminating contrast. he didn't want contrast.
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>> he wants to win on the economy. >> i spoke to a romney person they didn't want the debate to be interesting. they wanted it to be boring. >> let's take a look at romney's foreign policy tonight because you may never see it again. >> we don't want another iraq or afghanistan. seeing syria remove assad is a very high priority for us. seeing a replacement government being responsible people is critical for us. finally, we don't want to have military involvement there. we need to increase pressure time and time again on iran because anything other than a solution to this which stops this nuclear folly of theirs is unacceptable to america and of course a military action is the last resort. it's something one would only consider if all of the other avenues had been tried to their full extent. >> he even supported somewhere tonight bilateral talks.
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>> he is crazy. he says we don't want another iraq. the question should have been excuse me, didn't you support the war in iraq. you're saying that was a mistake if you don't want another one. he went so far in the reverse direction of everything he's ever said it was like i'm surprised he doesn't whiplash. he should be treated at the emergency center at this point right now. >> it is stunning because i go back to this, he has conservatives. the most anti-obama people are watching tonight. are they willing to say whatever it takes? got to buckle this guy as long as it beats him. >> i guess a lot of people are saying that. people who are going to vote for him are not going to do it primarily on foreign policy or how he's going to change foreign policy. they're going to do it because of the economy especially those independents who could go either way.
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they're not hanging on his every word. >> they hate obama more than they do al qaeda? >> well. >> i mean they don't hate al qaeda. >> i don't want to make that comparison. >> a few days ago i was talking to someone about the obama campaign about the last debate and their whole message was to hit the theme we're bringing troops home and he wants troops to stay in afghanistan and iraq. that's what obama wanted to do. tonight the romney campaign made it harder for them to make that argument because he kept saying whatever you want. whatever you want mr. president. >> this is his peaceful talk tonight. let's watch. >> our purpose is to make sure the world is peaceful. the mantle for promoting the principles of peace is falling to america. we didn't ask for it but it's an honor that we have it. for us to promote those principles of peace requires up to be strong.
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that begins with a strong economy here at home and the economy is not stronger. when the president of iraq -- of iran says that our debt makes us not a great country that's a frightening thing. we have weakened our economy. we need a strong economy. we need to have a strong military. our military is second to none in the world. we're blessed with terrific soldiers but the idea of a trillion dollars in cuts would change that. >> extraordinary intelligence. giving that one away. >> he figured those were cards that were not worth as much to him. he could just toss them into the card pile. >> concede the principle. whatever they want to here. >> it's buzz words. leadership, strong. >> is this going to matter tonight? >> i think it might matter some.
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it was a real contrast between commander in chief in control and challenger not. >> also obama made -- >> does it show the president's strength? >> it showed the president being vigorous but he also hit the point that this guy is shifty. >> you think he did? >> he made that point. i think there are 23 people undecided. maybe two of them will pick up on that. >> it's hard to keep up with romney to decide whether you like him or not. >> wait till thursday. >> thank you. when we return, our focus group of undecided voters, we'll hear from them. i think some of them are leaning toward the president. stay with us. the final presidential debate. it's over. stay with us. >> attacking me is not an agenda. attacking me is not talking about how we're going to deal with the challenges that deal in the middle east and take advantage of the opportunity
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there and stem the tide of this violence.
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